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Welcome to Memphis Area Legal Services, Inc.’s Website
A Case For Your Support!
Memphis Area Legal Services, Inc. (MALS) entered its fifth decade with the same commitment and determination that inspired 30 members of the legal profession in the wake of Dr. Martin Luther King’s death to coalesce around a shared vision to establish an organization whose single purpose was to provide a means by which the legal problems of the poor could be addressed.
Today, MALS continues that tradition of “excellence in legal advocacy,” as a non-profit, public service law firm committed to provide the highest quality legal assistance possible to the most vulnerable residents of our community.
Even with a dedicated staff, it cannot meet the overwhelming demand for legal assistance today. The challenges are more acute because the widening of the “justice gap” is exacerbated by the economic woes of our time. The recent census reveals that more than 57 million individuals live at or below the poverty line, representing more than a 14 million increase since the 2000 Decennial Census.
The 2011 Campaign for Equal Justice exceeded its $325,000 goal and reached an unprecedented milestone of raising over $350,000.We thank George “Buck” Lewis and the Campaign Cabinet for its tireless efforts. Even that amount is not enough. We had to cut expenses, predictably, in the personnel area. We are down 10.5 full-time equivalent positions caused by a loss of over $300,000 entering 2012 fiscal year, largely due to nearly a 20% reduction in federal funding. Consequently, your support in 2012 through your volunteerism (pro bono) and gifts are more crucial today than ever.
What can you do? Please volunteer your time willingly and generously contribute to the campaign. To give a tax-deductible gift, select “Contribute Now” at the top of the page.
Again, welcome to our website. We hope you find it informative and leave with a better understanding of the various activities and important services we provide our community.
HISTORY - HOW IT ALL BEGAN
The Memphis Area Legal Services, Inc. story began in 1968, in the wake of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with the commitment and resolve of thirty (30) members of the legal profession led by W. J. Michael "Mike" Cody. Though these lawyers and law students initially faced staunch opposition they, nevertheless, persevered until their dreams were realized on June 15, 1968, when the Neighborhood Legal Services Project (NLSP), opened its doors in the old Centenary Methodist Church located at 878 Mississippi Boulevard. Undeterred by the denial of funding twice by the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO), they pooled their own funds to support and organize the project and volunteered their time after normal work hours with law student and secretary staffing the office. Two years later OEO funded Memphis and Shelby County Legal Services (MSCLS) due in no small part to the same unsung heroes who helped establish the NLSP. The initial years were under the capable leadership of two Memphis institutions, Honorable George H. Brown (retired Circuit Court Judge), and A C Wharton, Jr. (Memphis City Mayor and former Shelby County Mayor), who both served as Executive Directors of MSCLS.
Following congressional enactment in 1974 of the Legal Services Corporation Act, which established the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) in Washington, D.C., additional funding for legal aid programs, including Memphis, was provided. The late 70's and early 80's were called the "expansion years" during which legal aid programs expanded their services to all counties, territories, and the District of Columbia. Consequently, Memphis and Shelby County Legal Services' name was changed to Memphis Area Legal Services, Inc. (MALS) to better reflect the expansion of services to the three rural counties of Fayette, Lauderdale, and Tipton.
MALS has continued the tradition of the early years of providing high quality and aggressive advocacy.
Today, MALS is a multi-faceted law firm guided by values and principles that embody its commitment to equal access to justice. Through its well-trained, dedicated and capable staff, complemented by the volunteerism of the private bar, MALS continues to provide free legal assistance through advice and counsel, court and administrative representation and community education and outreach to the low-income and elderly residents in Shelby, Fayette, Lauderdale and Tipton counties.